tv Sanjay Gupta MD CNN November 17, 2013 4:30am-5:01am PST
him in time. >> as if they don't risk their lives enough. unbelievable! we'll see you back here at the top of the hour. >> and we look forward to it. but first, "sanjay gupta md" starts right now. hey, there! time in london on assignment and there's a pharmaceutical company here i'll tell you who is trying to turn secretly grown marijuana, weed, into a serious medicine. i'm going to tell you about medical marijuana here in the united kingdom. also, new guidelines are out on drugs to lower your cholesterol. you have to listen to this. a lot more people will be prescribed these medications, up to 70 million people. but for many, there's a better alternative. i'll tell you what it is. and a device like this, can it really tell if you just got hit hard enough to have a concussion? but first, as you may know, i travelled the world in search of
new, sometimes alternative therapies to treat people. the answer is not always pharmaceutical medicines. and as i found this year, marijuana can sometimes help when nothing else does. but legally, it is so difficult to obtain in many places around the world, including right here in the uk. but you're about to meet jamie, who has done something not previously thought possible and could offer a glimpse of the future of medical marijuana. >> number 29, 26. >> reporter: in just a few moments, 33-year-old jamie wattling will get the medicine he says he desperately needs. the medicine his doctor prescribed. we weren't allowed to record him inside this pharmacy, but there, you can see him waiting. >> in my country, no, they won't dispense it. >> reporter: this is no ordinary visit to the pharmacy, because jamie had to fly from his home in the uk to here in the netherlands, and this is no ordinary medicine. it is bedrocan, also known as
medical marijuana, illegal in the uk. are you more functional, are you able to do things that you otherwise could not do? >> yeah, i wouldn't be sitting here, i can't be talking to you. >> reporter: as soon as jamie gets his medication, within minutes, he's in the closest coffee shop. >> need to borrow a grinder and order a cup of coffee as well, basically. >> reporter: so he can light up. and find some relief. >> that's what i've come all the way for. it's like christmas, you can't wait for it to get here and understand it gets here, you don't want it to go, do you? >> reporter: what happened? >> i was attacked on a subway when i was 13 and got my back fractured in three places and then a work accident and i opened up all three fractures again later on when i was 18. >> so you were originally beat up? >> beat up, yeah. >> reporter: and three spinal fractures? >> and it was a miracle i wasn't
disabled from that. >> reporter: he saw doctor after doctor and took a staggering number of medicines. >> stronger morphine? stronger and stronger. backlophan. >> and this is for nerve pain. >> reporter: a satchel full of pills, but none of it really worked for him. and the young man was pretty certain he had reached the end of the line. >> it was my only option, apart from ending my life. it was my only chance of a piece of happiness. >> that's really how bad things were. were you actually thinking about ending your life? >> yeah, yeah. >> reporter: until his doctor prescribed medical marijuana. only problem, it is illegal in the uk, though many doctors have started recommending it. dr. eli sober is a neurologist at london bridge hospital. >> reporter: would you say medical marijuana has been accepted in the medical community here? >> i think that if you use it
for appropriate patients, who are not responding to conventional therapies, then cannabdoids who have been properly recommended in the proper doses are entirely reasonable and most of my colleagues believe this is an entirely acceptable way of treating patients. >> reporter: but again here in the uk, the law haven't caught up with the attitudes of those doctors, forcing jamie's journey. so you were nervous the first time? >> yes, completely. >> reporter: he declared his medical marijuana to the customs agent and was allowed to bring it back here. so this is your medicine now? to his home. jamie hopes none of this is forever and would love to be out of all of his meds one day, including medical marijuana. >> i want to be fixed. i don't want to keep medicating. i want to be fixed. i want my life back. i want to be able to work. i want to go back out partying, i want to be able to drive a
car. i want to be able to walk out to get a pint of milk. >> reporter: this helps with the pain, but doesn't fix the underlying problems? >> yeah, doesn't fix it, but helps a hell of a lot with the pain, yeah. >> reporter: extreme measures. but i've seen versions of the story again and again, on both sides of the atlantic, as laws don't seem to keep up with doctors' growing interest in this plant. now, back in the united states, obama care is shaking up system. it's been a bumpy start, but this week, we got the first cold facts about how many people have signed up for this new insurance, through the healthcare.gov website. for the month of october, it was way less than expected. fewer than 27,000 people made it through the federal website to get enrolled. i do remember that many states have their own websites, and in california alone, more people enrolled than on the federal healthcare.gov website. you can see how your own state is doing at cnn.com/healthcare. and also remember, look, if you have insurance through your job,
through medicare or medicaid, you're already all set up. if not, you do have to sign up, but you have until march 31st to avoid that fine. now, next up, we've got some new guidelines that might make it seem like everyone is going to be taking stat ins to lower ther cholesterol. the question is, should you? ♪ [ woman ] i'd be a writer. [ man ] i'd be a baker. [ woman ] i wanna be a pie maker. [ man ] i wanna be a pilot. [ woman ] i'd be an architect. what if i told you someone could pay you and what if that person were you? ♪ when you think about it, isn't that what retirement should be, paying ourselves to do what we love? ♪ paying ourselves to do what we love? if yand you're talking toevere rheuyour rheumatologistike me, about trying or adding a biologic. this is humira, adalimumab. this is humira working to help relieve my pain.
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a mantra you've probably heard on this show or from your own doctor, know your numbers. we've always been told this. that with heart health, for example, knowing your child molest cholesterol number is key. that is until now. first of all, what doctors typically have been aiming for is to get the total cholesterol below 200. good cholesterol, hdl, above 60, and ldl, lousy, bad cholesterol, below 100. that's oftentimes when doctors would think about a statin medication for their patients. but under these new guidelines, things change dramatically. so they're looking at various risk factors now. so if someone has diabetes, regardless of anything else, they would be recommended to
take a statin medication. if they have any history of heart disease, get a statin medication. if their bad cholesterol is congenitally high, above 190, obviously, they'll be recommended a statin medication. and if your ten-year risk of developing heart disease is over 70%, you'll be recommended a statin medication. that's a calculation you can figure out with your doctor or through online calculator as well. but the point is this, if you do the math, you could double the number of people taking statin medications over the next couple of years. it's about 35 million people taking it now, could go up to 70 million people. while it may reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, the question a lot of people are asking, is it going to make us live longer as well? and this may surprise you, but the answer to that question is not still clear. it's a lot to digest, so i want to bring in dr. steven neeszen the share of cardiovascular medicine at the cleveland clinic. let me ask you a couple of questions. i'm not a cardiologist, but a doctor who likes to ask a lot of
questions before prescribing medications. is there a little bit of white flag waving going on? are you concerned -- i mean, we know how to prevent a lot of heart disease, dr. nissen, you better than anybody. when something like this comes out, what is the message, do you think, for people, who like most people, should frankly be doing the basics better? >> first of all, no drug is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. let's be very clear about that. that the first line of defense against heart disease is lifestyle. that means keeping your body weight down at normal levels to avoid diabetes, particularly. that means the exercising regularly. and that means eating a healthy diet, which most of us now believe is a mediterranean diet, which interestingly enough, is not a low-fat diet. it's actually a diet that's fairly rich in fats, but good fats. so exercise, diet, those are the mainstays of prevention. the problem is, in america, we have gotten so far out of the
ideal lifestyle that millions, tens of millions of americans have levels of cholesterol that are very unhealthy. we like to do this all with a healthy lifestyle, but healthy lifestyle has not worked out very well for the majority of americans. they either don't do it or they don't do it well enough to get their cholesterol levels under control. >> patients come to you and say, this is the question i want to know the answer to before taking this med. am i going to live longer. what do you tell them? >> there are data that show that in certain populations, statins seem to prolong life. but not in everybody. the most compelling evidence is that they prevent heart attack and probably stroke as well. what you don't see so clearly is in what we call primary prevention. that is, people that don't yet have heart disease. is there compelling evidence
that statin drugs prolong life in those people? and the answer is, it's not quite as compelling. it's less compelling in women than in men. if you look at the totality of the data, most of us believe that there is a mortality benefit, but it is a more modest benefit than the benefit on preventing heart attacks and preventing strokes, which ultimately do lead to death, but it takes time for that effect to occur. >> but you are balancing it in this case, dr. nissen, as you know, with some potentially deadly side effects, liver disease, in some cases, type ii diabetes. so if you can't give the compelling evidence in people who don't have severe heart disease that it's going to lengthen their life, how do you balance with those side effects? >> i think the guideline writers did their own analysis and day came to the conclusions that more people should be treated. now, i want to be clear about something. statins, the drugs that we use for treating cholesterol are
safe. they do have adverse effect, but the serious adverse effects are uncommon. those include muscle injury that can be serious and life threatening. that's extremely rare on statins. what's not so rare are muscle aches and pains and sometimes muscle weakness. we can often treat that by switching to a lower dose of the statin or changing to a different statin. >> you have described this as a tectonic shift. and think about that. we'll put these guidelines on our website so people can find them there. but you're predicting 35 million new predictions for statins. a lot of people suspicious about what this means for pharmaceutical companies. are they really driving this train? >> well, that's a great question. and you know, if you went back ten years, you might be able to make that argument. but there's a wonderful aspect of the use of statins now. all but one of them are now generically available.
you can go to the pharmacy in a big box store and you can get a three-month supply of zocor for $10. $10 for a three-month supply. there are no pharmaceutical companies that are going to get rich with these guidelines, because these drugs are now very inexpensive, they're generically available, so this is really about public health, not about company profits. and that takes the worry out of this for a lot of people, including myself. this is not promotional, this is about public health. >> well, i really appreciate it. and i always enjoy speaking to you. how about you and i make a pledge, wile it's not as exciting as talking about 35 million new prescriptions, you and i both continue to beat the drum on prevention. because it's so important and people need to know that as you pointed out. appreciate you being on the show today. thank you. >> my pleasure. coming up, sensors are trying to tell if a hit to the head is hard enough to cause an injury. we're going to put them to the test. ting engine revving ]
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healthy diets are hard on your teeth. the truth is a lot of healthy food choices are still high in acidic content. if your enamel is exposed to acid and is in a softened state and you brush it away, you know, then it's gone. i would recommend that they brush with pronamel. pronamel is formulated to strengthen enamel and counteract the effects of acid erosion. they don't need to cut out those foods because they are good for them. but you can make some smart choices.
football can be a dangerous game. we talk about it quite a bit on this program. a high school player died in arizona this week from a head injury. you know, many parents and players and coaches, they're looking for more protection. one approach to try to prevent these types of injuries involves helmet sensors. now, the companies that market them say they can tell if a blow to the head is too hard and requires a closer look. but now that these sensors have been around for a while, the question is, how well do they work? we decided to find out. >> their quarterback ran and i tackled him. we just both hit the ground.
>> 13-year-old eric sweeney is describing a concussion he suffered a few weeks ago. >> didn't hurt or anything, it just shocked -- like, it felt all fuzzy in the back of my head. >> reporter: on his team sideline, no one saw the play. and despite that fuzzy feeling, eric was raring to go. >> he came out after that play. and he was ready to go back in. >> but he was stopped short, by this. it is supposed to flash yellow after a moderate inmpact to the head and red after a severe one. when eric came off the field, his light was flashing yellow. >> then he began to get the headache. then it became evident that something was not right. >> fortunately, the impact indicator flashed red and he was removed from the game. >> concussion helmet sensors. they're beginning to pop-up on all sorts of playing fields.
they're marketed as being able to measure whether a hit is too hard. and an extra set of highs on the field. but how well do they really work? that's what scientists are trying to find out. >> that's what we expect. >> a low level impact and the products being tested all have green lights flowing. but when the helmet drops from higher up, 60 inches, 5 feet, this is over 100 gs, big hit. >> three, two, one. >> that is surprising. so nothing went off there. that's well into the range of concussion. you definitely want an alert at 110 gs. you can see the six different sensors in there. >> a biomechanic call everything near who leads the testing decides to drop from six feet. >> i'd be pretty concerned if
this does not trigger one of those. >> that impact, 130 gs, is like running full speed into a brick wall. one device did trigger. the other did not. >> that's ready. >> at an even higher drop, one product flashes green. the other red. so this really kind of underscores what we need to do testing and we need to understand what we're measuring, when at the trigger, when they don't so parents can have a better understanding what information they're getting back. >> a frequent disclaimer on the products, they do not diagnose concussion. but concussion experts say the devices themselves still need more testing. eric sweeney's light flashing may have been a fluke or maybe his censor worked. either way, the sweeneys are happy that he had it. >> yeah! >> after his doctor diagnosed him with a mild concussion, he sat out for three weeks.
he got back on the field just in time to make the state championship. >> without it, i might have gone back in. you think you're dizzy and stuff. you might stay out, you might not. the light definitely helps determine whether you should or not. >> now reebok says the type of test we saw is not the best way to gauge impact because the head in that test isn't moving. they say they don't know of any real world case where a hit caused of a concussion did not turn the light red or yellow. educate, not medicaid. i say it all the time. and while 36 million myrrh mornz may start on statins, there are other ways to control your cholesterol without ever having to fill a prescription. i've been looking into it. when you have diabetes like i do, you want a way to help minimize blood sugar spikes. support heart health. and your immune system. now there's new glucerna advance with three benefits in one.
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we talked about how the new cholesterol guidelines will essentially double the number of people on statins to more than 70 million americans. that is mind numbing. i want you to listen to this. this is important. i want to remind you that diet and exercise can be as powerful as any medicine, sometimes more so, and knowledge. the first thing to know what is cholesterol? it's hard to go to the grocery store without seeing a mention of it. can help lower cholesterol.
supports healthy cholesterol levels. in fact, diet is a major source of cholesterol. but it's not the only source. your liver produces about 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol each day. cholesterol binds proteins to travel through the bloodstream creating high density protein or hdl, that's the good stuff. and low density protein, ldl, the lousy stuff. hdl is the cleanup crew. they pick up the blood vessels and take them back to the liver to be processed. but sometimes there's too much ldl. >> you eat more of the common bad fats, it actually causes your liver to produce more bad cholesterol. >> but foods higher in fiber like oatmeal, they help reduce the levels of ldl in your body. so keep your cholesterol in check by eating smart.
>> as you chase life, don't forget about exercise. you don't have to become a marathon runner. a brisk walk can do itment remember this, 30 minutes a day, five days a week. even get the same benefit if you split it up into ten-minute intervals. how intense? here's a good test for you. it's okay if you can still talk while you're exercising, but if you can sing, you're not pushing it hard enough. so get out there. the latest research says if americans would just exercise this much, we could cut the number of heart attacks and strokes by a third. educate, not medmedicate. i do want to give you a reminder of what is going on in the philippines. so many areas still reeling from that typhoon that hit over a week ago. the destruction in some places near complete, aid is needed in the weeks and months to come. oftentimes when international tension started focusing somewhere else. if you're looking for a way to help, you can find all sorts of
information on our website. that's going to wrap things up for sgmd. stay connected with me. let's keep the conversation going as well on twitter. late night comics love him. but plenty of people in toronto, well, let's just say they don't. they want him gone. the city gears up to gutting more power from rob ford. he prepares for his own television show. >> the typhoon that struck the fi philippines is long gone but millions are hungry and losing hope by the hour. >> it began as a simple traffic stop. the mom in this minivan with her five children in tow gave police in new mexico a ride they will